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Toyota offers some of the best SUVs on the market, but the two most popular ones, the RAV4 and the Highlander have seen a significant drop in sales so far this year. What do the sales look like, why are these SUVs seeing a decline, and can the brand make a comeback? 

2023 Toyota RAV4 black
2023 Toyota RAV4 | via Toyota

So far in 2023, almost all of the Toyota SUVs are down in sales, according to GoodCarBadCar. The only one that’s seeing an increase over the same month last year is the Corolla Cross, which has a little over 2,000 more in sales in 2023. The 4Runner isn’t exactly a best seller for the brand, so it being down 50% isn’t too surprising.

The two most popular SUV models for Toyota are the RAV4 and the Highlander. Both have respectable sales figures for February 2023, but each one is down from the figures the brand saw last year during February. In 2022, the RAV4 sold 34,407 units, while the Highlander saw 22,949. The same month this year brought 30,027 sales for the RAV4, which is down about 12.73%. 

Looking at Highlander’s figures, we see that the model sold 17.99% less than what it did last year in February. Meanwhile some rival models, like the Ford Bronco, have increased sales by over 100%. 

Why would sales decline for these models?

Toyota, like almost every other automaker out there, was hit by the supply chain crisis in recent years, which affected the number of sales newer vehicles saw last year. While the production of parts is slowly returning, we’re not exactly out of the woods yet.

Another reason for the decline in sales could be that the brand hasn’t updated too many of its SUVs in quite some time, like the 4Runner. It wouldn’t be surprising to discover that drivers are tired of the same old look and will turn elsewhere for something more refreshing. Some think the RAV4 is starting to look outdated for this year due to its rivals getting some pretty nice modern updates. 

The Highlander is also considered outdated, but at least it saw some changes to its engine for the 2023 model year. With the switch to the 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, it now gets 265 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque.

Obviously, this theory involves some speculation so it should be taken with a grain of salt. In reality, this data is far from complete and Toytoa has plenty of time to turn things around.

Can these Toyota SUVs bounce back?

While it’s disappointing to see such low sales figures for the first part of 2023, we still have to remember that there are several more months to go this year. Sales could pick up at any time and the brand may see an increase before 2023 ends. It is tax time, which could bring some cash into many consumers’ pockets, creating an itch to purchase a new vehicle. 

Looking at 2022 sales figures, it appears that the Highlander had better months of purchases over the course of the year. The best sales months for this model were March, September, November, and December. The highest being March with 25,916 sales. 

For the Toyota RAV4, several months saw pretty good figures. The best-selling month was July, which brought 37,749 purchases. March was another good month with 37,328 sales. So, it’s likely more sales will occur as the year goes on, especially since there aren’t any major problems reported on either model so far. 

The first two months of 2023 weren’t very fortunate for Toyota when it comes to its most popular SUVs, the RAV4 and the Highlander. However, there are still many more months to go in the year, and the brand could bounce back quickly before the year ends. 


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